The Permissive Environment Is The Suspect...
The permissive and participatory conduct which most employees take for granted,eventually escalates into more serious assaultive behavior commonly referred to as employee on employee workplace violence starts with innuendos, a bad word, or simple jokes taken out of context or used to inflame another. Initiation of a proper and thorough investigation is possible under auspices of a Threat Assessment Team. Banter between employees if left alone by supervisors becomes tense and often results in a more aggressive response. The truth of matter is that in most cases this banter is perceived as harmless shop talk.
Supervisors often believe that this healthy shop talk builds camaraderie and does not detract from performance. However, such permissive behavior empowers potential perpetrator who may feel he enjoys partiality of supervisor. After all, he does his job, pumps out numbers and meets "bosses" demands. Regardless of relationship and his performance, definite and clear action should be taken initially to curtail potential of an explosive situation from impacting workplace. The spontaneous reaction by victim is surprising and could be sufficiently volatile to affect bystanders as well.
Remembering that business owner is ultimately responsible for actions they fail to take in any situation places decision in question. The prevention of workplace violence requires a proactive response. Security is everyone's responsibility but ultimately but ultimately management's duty. The exposure to violent behavior by non employees is yet another issue which will be presented in future articles.
In a permissive environment, uninformed employee has no idea that emotions tied into simple acts of harassment are an explosive combination often leading to a spontaneous counter response by victim. While response is unfortunate in terms of who ultimately precipitated incident, victim who is now taking action into his hands becomes aggressor and must be held accountable.
Using a Threat Assessment Team or a trained group of individuals would be proper approach in this scenario and in future incidents. The conduct of Threat Assessment Process would involve total analysis of information and intelligence available about participants, incident and environment in order to render a fair and impartial outcome. Being properly trained is key. Knowledge of how to conduct a fact finding investigation is critical to successful determination of type of disciplinary action or criminal prosecution might bring. The process should synchronized and well coordinated and reflective of organization's leadership team if possible to insure that preliminary responsibility of conducting fact finding investigative process does not fall on shoulders of Security Director only. The major players of Threat Assessment Team should include at a minimum: Immediate Supervisor, Personnel & Human Resource Managers, Employee Assistance, Safety and Security Managers, to insure a thorough Threat Assessment (Investigation) is conducted.